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Tech node Issue 1

Spring 2011

new tech to
change
your
world
Tablets A U G M E N T E D R EAL I T Y

4G mobile D igit a l Art R i o ting

P l u s 2 0 1 1 ’ s 2 0 h o tt e s t g a dg e t s
INTROducing
Technode
Welcome to the very first issue of Technode, a new technology magazine
from the team behind the TechDigest and Shiny Shiny websites.
In it you’ll find round ups of what we think are the hottest gadgets of
the summer, a look at how disruptive 4G technology could be to the mobile
phone industry, a glance at the future of digital art and a whole lot more.
Rewind a minute though. So what is a web company doing producing
a magazine? Why not just put the stories on your sites?
Well, we felt that there were some stories we wanted to write which
would be much better served by a magazine format because they were lon-
ger reads. There was also a series of stories - all focusing on the immediate
future of technology - that we thought would sit well together in one publi-
cation. Lastly the introduction of the iPad and other tablets PCs has changed
magazines so they no longer have to follow a rigid pattern. It is early days
for us for but as time goes by we hope to play a real role in re-inventing tech
publications. There’ll be a lot more flashy stuff next time.
The best part of all though is that Technode will be available in a num-
ber of formats. You can grab a fully interactive version of the mag if you own
an iPad. Alternatively download a PDF version and read it on your PC or
your mobile device. Or if you want to read the features in the bath there’s
always the printed version courtesy of our partners at Magcloud.
Oh, and unless you buy the printed version, for which there’s a fee to
cover print costs, Technode is completely free.
If you have enjoyed this then issue two of Technode will be available
sometime during the summer and will mainly focus on technology and how
it is changing the car. Until then...

Tech node
Technode was a collaborative editorial project with contributions
from the following: Gerald Lynch, Anna Leach,
Elisabeth Edvardsen, Laura Scott, Ashley Norris, Chris Price

Designed and prepared for iPad by onegoodeye.co.uk


Thanks to Alligator Digital Magazines and Magcloud

Shiny Media. 5a Goodge Place, London, W1T 4SD. UK


Tel: +44 (0)2031 671 944
Contact: Ashley@shinymedia.com
contents 4 This Year’s Key Tech Trends
We look at the big tech developments for the next 12 months.
Including 3D games, in car connectivity and entertainment. Plus
the latest web tablets

8 How Augmented Reality Is Coming Of Age


More than just a gimmick AR really is going to change your life

12 Summer’s 20 Hottest Gadgets


The battle of the hottest handhelds incuding the Nintendo 3DS
and the Sony NGP. Also Blackberry’s Playbook and more

22 The Future Of Mobile Devices


3D tech hits tablet and smartphones. But are European
manufacturers losing the smartphone race?

26 Facebook Riots
Public demos have come a long way since the days of home made
placards and chants of ‘Maggie Out’. Now demos are organised us-
ing social networks like Facebook and Twitter

28 How 4G Might Mean Free Mobile Data


Fourth generation, or 4G, technology offers super fast data speeds
without the need for a fixed connection

30 Social Liars
Are social networks encouraging us to embellish the truth in or-
der to win friends and influence people?

34 Why Digital Art Is All About Technology


Digital art is merging hi-tech with creativity. Once the
preserve of geeks, code is now the hottest new raw material

4 26 34
3
key Tech
Trends

The next six months look like being


pivotal ones for the gadget world
with several key technologies finally
hitting the mainstream. Here are three
to keep your eye on.
by gerald lynch
tech tr en d s

It’s been the industry buzzword 3D programming available to Sky’s

1 for nearly half a decade now, but


2011 finally sees all the pieces in
place for the 3D revolution to really
kick in. From 3D content creation
premium subscribers. 3D content
creation on a personal level is also
becoming increasingly affordable
thanks to the sliding prices of dual-
The Growth to video consumption, there’s no lens camcorders, with the pocket-
of the 3D reason for a 3D-ready device not sized Sony Bloggie 3D touching
Ecosystem to make it into every tech-savvy down in April, expected to cost little
household this year. more than £150.

For starters, decent 3D TVs are The ever-improving attempts at


dropping in price faster than mince autostereoscopy (e.g glasses-less
pies do in January. The superb 3D) will also push 3D TV into the
40-inch Samsung LE40C750 now mainstream this year, with excel-
costs less than £750. But those lent examples from Sony and
who can afford to splash out even Toshiba on show at January’s CES
further can also look forward to show. It has the potential to totally
truly luxurious sets in the coming negate the now-tiresome “passive
year, such as the 70-inch Sharp vs. active” debate that surrounds
Aquos Quattron LE935 with quad- and confuses potential 3D adopt-
pixel technology, which is due in ers. There are still a few teething
the Spring. problems (limited “sweet spots”
in which to truly appreciate the 3D
While there still isn’t as much 3D depth effects still plague the sets),
content out there as the TV manu- but the continued advancements
facturers must surely be crying here will eventually break the bar-
out for 2011 will be the first full rier that the need for expensive
year of broadcasting for the UK’s glasses has put in place. In terms
first 3D-only TV channel, Sky 3D. A of quality it’s a gamble at this stage,
successful trial in pubs over the last but Toshiba are planning on releas-
Companies like Sky and Disney have
year has seen it slowly creep into ing an autostereoscopic TV to the
pioneered 3D content across the globe homes, with now a wide range of public before the year is out.

Look beyond 3D movies on TV


and the potential for the technol-
ogy becomes even greater. It’s not
uncommon to find web connected
sets sporting webcams and Skype
video-calling capabilities these
days, and here is an area where
3D TVs could really come into their
own. Picture being able to see a
loved
one many miles away in full 3D, (just like Google Goggles), before

1 being able to give them a virtual


hug or a virtual handshake during an
overseas video-conferenced busi-
ness meeting.
allowing you to manipulate them on
screen in 3D.

Games consoles are also now


The Growth ready to get in on the action too.
of the 3D Or think of the possibilities for Both the Xbox 360 and PS3 can
Ecosystem shopping from a 3D TV. Imagine now play 3D games (with the Sony
being able to spin around a 3D, machine also acting as a 3D Blu-ray
virtual version of a pair of trainers player) but the most interesting 3D
that you’ve been eyeing up to view gaming prospect of all comes from
them from all angles before pur- the Nintendo 3DS handheld.
chasing. It could be possible: pair
a web connection with an inte- Featuring a 3.5 inch autostereo-
grated motion sensing unit inside scopic display (made far more
a television, similar to the popular watchable thanks to the close
Xbox 360 Kinect which tracks limb proximity in which it’s held to the
movement, and you could use it to user), it makes 3D content acces-
preview a product from all angles sible as it too doesn’t need a pair of
with a sense of depth from the 3D glasses to work. If sales of the
display. Gesture controls could also original DS are anything to go by,
be used to wave through item lists, the console is likely to be the first
or browse different virtual stores. It mass-market 3D device due to its
could bring augmented reality into relative affordability compared to
the home, allowing a web connect- 3D TVs. Just as portable will be 3D
ed TV and camera to scan items in smartphones, with LG and Sharp
your living room and suggest other both rumoured to have devices
Below - punters gawp at Sky football products you may like based on with autosteroscopic displays in the
in 3D. Opposite - videos of 3D phones
and headsets. what you already own works.
tech tr en d s

These super-powered tablets and eco-system will be felt no more

2 phones will need strong apps


to make any proposed hardware
advancements worthwhile and the
future here definitely lies in web-
acutely than in in-car technology,
which may be the most exciting
development in automotive circles
since the introduction of the electric
In car based ones. The reasoning here vehicle.
connectivity is simple; there’s nothing better
than having all your info synced Companies like Parrot are already
and ready no matter what device experimenting with web-connected
you’re using, and web based apps dashboard stereo systems. Its As-
make that easier than ever. As teroid unit, is packing in the Android
examples, think of using Amazon’s OS and had the potential to stream
Kindle ereading apps, perfectly cloud-based music from the likes of
syncing bookmarks across tablets, Spotify directly into the car, as well
PCs and smartphones, or Google’s as more conventional uses such as
Docs, instantly updating edited files looking up map and directional data.
across platforms no matter what
device the changes were made on. Ford take the concept one step fur-
Stored and backed-up remotely, the ther, having been developing their
safety of your data is (for the most own connected solution for some
part) doubly guaranteed by their years now in the shape of Ford
use. The importance of web-based SYNC. It’s a voice-activated dash-
apps will only grow over the course board system that will allow drivers
of the year, especially if Google’s to access content when on the
forthcoming Chrome desktop OS, road. The release of the Ford SYNC
which relies almost entirely on this SDK is of particular significance, al-
form of “cloud” computing, proves lowing developers to create apps or
popular. modify existing ones to work with
the smart dashboard. Connectivity
Apps are allowing all forms of between BlackBerry and Android
technology to become “smart” or handsets and the Ford kit is already
“connected”, from web connected available, with iPhone compatibility
TVs to fridges that prompt you to set to follow.
stock up on essentials if they think
you’re running low on milk. This
increasingly expanding connected

Jason Johnson demonstrates the My


Ford System in the new Ford Focus
“More and more drivers will find a them to track down the address

2 way to use their devices and their


apps while in the car,” said Der-
rick Kuzak, Ford Motor Company’s
Group Vice President of Global
of the incident in an instant. Or a
mobile app that kills the ignition in a
stolen car, calling the police to track
down perpetrators before they’ve
In car Product Development. had a chance to make a getaway.
connectivity
“They can do it unsafely, or they Some of these ideas are already
can do it through safer voice-acti- making their way into new vehicles,
vated solutions such as Ford SYNC soon to be available from a car
- keeping their eyes on the road and dealership near you. The latest Ford
their hands on Focus model, already in production
the wheel.” and up for pre-order before general
sales begin next year can auto-
App submissions for the platform matically parallel-park. If you pull
already number into the thousands up near a parking space and switch
and it’s little wonder why; Ford on the automatic parallel parking
SYNC is now in 3 million vehicles assist function, the car will calculate
and counting, a genuinely sig- whether or not it can fit in the gap
nificant figure that is only set to and set about squeezing itself in
expand, representing an intriguing while you sit back, never needing
new area in which app developers to crane your neck around to avoid
can spread their wings. scrapes.

Look a little further into the future Likewise, Volvo are experimenting
and networked, connected cars with cars that can automatically fol-
could completely revolutionise the low a lead vehicle in a convoy. The
way we travel. We’re talking about project is codenamed SARTRE (add
cars that could potentially drive in any existential readings of the
themselves; with a precise GPS technology as you see fit!), which
unit in every cay that could track stands for Safe Road Trains for the
vehicle positioning within inches, Environment. Sensors built into
motion sensors in bumpers to one lead vehicle send information
prevent collisions and a Sat Nav to a fleet of driver-less cars trailing
to decide destinations, a network behind, which automatically adapt
The Volvo Road train where cars follow
of computer controlled cars could their speed, steering and distance
each other in a convoy automatically become an electronic chauffeur between each other dependant on
adapting their speed, distance and
steering independent of human actions. service for every passenger. the actions of the human-manned
front car. By closely monitoring
The same principles could apply each vehicle in this way, there’s
to networked emergency ser- great potential for increased road
vices, which could drastically lower safety, driver and passenger com-
response times to life threatening fort in the following vehicles and
incidents or thefts. A car that can reduced
sense when it has been in a serious CO2 emissions.
accident and automatically calls
the ambulance or fire brigade, with
location aware features allowing
tech tr en d s

Just as unavoidable as 3D this front-and-rear facing cameras this

3 year will be tablet computers.


The Apple iPad opened the flood-
gates last year, a total trailblazer
for the form factor that proved not
time around, you’d have everything
you need for a great mobile blog-
ging platform; a 3G connection, a
great web browser, a generously
tablets only that slate devices could be sized keyboard, an integrated stills
consumption useful, but that they could be sexy camera for capturing all the action
and and desirable to consumers too. and a video recorder for “vlogging”
creation It’s taken a year of playing catch-up interviews and more.
for the other major manufacturers
to put their devices together, but a Motorola’s Xoom and the Galaxy
line-up of genuine contenders are Tab 2 will lead the Android charge,
now standing tall and ready to rock rocking the new Honeycomb ver-
Apple’s dominance. Or at least until sion of the operating system, the
the iPad mark-2 rears its “magical” first from Google to be made spe-
head. cifically optimised for tablet-sized
devices. It will (hopefully) lead to
The iPad 2 could prove a tipping devices with interfaces just as slick
point in tablet trends, potentially as Apple’s iOS, and will increasingly
moving them away from media be bolstered by multi-core CPUs,
consumption to creation too. Re- a trend that’s set to ignite mobile
sourceful artists are already using computing in smartphones too.
the tablet as a makeshift lightbox,
and it has even become the stan- LG’s forthcoming Optimus Pad
dard as a portfolio presentation tool makes use of just such a dual-core
for photographers. But expected processor in the shape of its Nvidia
hardware improvements could Tegra 2 chip in order to power its
make creativity flourish from within 3D visuals. Again the potential ap-
the device itself. For instance, with plication for such a display in tablets
Apple expected to include decent is riveting; a mobile workstation
in which to organise our files and
media in a faux-3D space, browse
maps with depth-defining topogra-
phy not to mention consuming 3D
movies and games. The Optimus
Pad’s Achilles hell however is it’s
need for 3D glasses, stunting it’s
portability somewhat.

The Tablet that may yet surprise us


all is the Playbook from Blackberry.
Built with work applications as its
key features it could prove itself
to be the corporate must have for
2011. It will raise the bar in making
Tablets productive work tools.

Pretty much every mainstream consumer


electronics maker now has a tablet PC.
tec h n od e
o pi n ion

Augmented
Smartphones have been
the catalyst for a host
of innovative uses for
Augmented Reality like
this Dutch museum tour.

Reality: still
the future?
How AR is moving away from
fluffy gimmicks to truly enrich
our experience of the real world
by ANNA LEACH
AUG MENTD RE ALI T Y

O
!
ne of the big issues facing the Augmented power-hungry AR apps will never be things you leave
Reality industry in the next six months is on in the background or have running for more than a
sorting out the hype from the true devel- few minutes at a time. When our phones are jacked-up
opment, the gimmicks from the ground- power boats, this will all be a lot easier.
breaking. Currently GPS for civilians is only accurate to about
This is hyped area. Mostly because it’s a sexy area. 10m which restricts what can be done with geolocated
It’s visual, it’s dramatic and to those of us who like to AR. That’s set to improve to about 2-3m in 2015 but in
think technology can change the world it’s almost ir- the meantime there is a more accurate form which uses
resistible – you can see the world changing through your local cell phone towers as well as satellites to triangulate
mobile phone – dragons hover above Oxford Street, the position of the user, though not all handsets support
information hovers above buildings, tweets pop up on this.
streets as people post them and you can read about Since AR relies on downloading and displaying
what’s going on behind walls you can’t see through. All information from the internet, it works best when there
in real time. is a good internet connection. A one bar 3G connection
It’s imaginative, visual and sexy – little wonder isn’t always good enough to keep up with the demands
that two of the industries most interested in exploiting of streaming heavy content - graphics for example.
it are advertising and the music industry – who have When 4G mobile internet finally hits - it’s looking like
both sunk a lot of money into the enterprise producing this will be about 2015 in the UK - this will only get bet-
anything from a Rolling Stones app to the Black Eyed ter, faster and more convincing..
Peas BEP360 animated augmented music video app to As for processing power - things are looking up
pop-out virtual games on the back of cereal packets. already: LG’s 2X smartphone unveiled at CES
And where they go - money follows - the AR industry
was given a projected value of $1.5bn by 2015 by Juni-
per research.
But - is it useful? That is the question Augmented
Reality fans and developers are going to have to deal
with in the near future. Insiders have been sceptical
about the promised $1.5bn revenues for the AR industry
by 2015. We’ve seen some fun apps, and some attempts
at great works – like groundbreaking translator app
Word Lens. But even in apps like Word Lens, the user
experience hasn’t fully caught up with the ideas and the
overlaid translation on top of the original text can be
shaky and flickery. I think it is still more of a toy than a
useful tool.
Since AR relies
WHAT’S IN THE WAY There are a bunch on downloading
of external factors that are holding up the devel-
opment of Augmented Reality. Things like the
and displaying
processing power of mobile phones, the inaccu- information from
racy of civilian-grade GPS and that battery power the internet, it
needed to fuel complex tasks.
Consequently there’s a hitlist of obvious improve-
works best when
ments that will make augmented reality significantly bet- there is a good
ter. And they are largely to do with mobile phones which
is where most augmented reality stuff is right now. Most internet
smartphone batteries only last a day, which means that connection.
has a dual-core chip, we’re likely to see a lot more of the image coming in through your viewfinder - that’s
of these in future. The advent of tablets will be a big deal not true AR because there’s no interaction between real
here too, because it will make mobile devices bigger and and virtual. All the developer has done is substitute the
more powerful - able to deal with the demands of com- background to his drawing for a feed from the camera
plex applications. However, I don’t see people wandering of the phone. It’s a neat trick, but there’s not meaningful
around the streets with iPads perched on their faces, the connection.
way people wear glasses so, user experience will have to If the virtual character winces when you touch it
be compelling and useful for this sort of AR to become with your real-world fingers, or if he reacts to standing
useful. on a table, then that is real AR. That’s the virtual world
connecting to and interacting with the real world.
BEYOND MOBILE PHONES Branching
out from phones and tablets, I think we’ll see AR HOW IT WORKS Currently, there are two
winding up in other things too. Cars are one of ways of making that connection between the vir-
the obvious areas where Augmented reality could tual and the real one. One is location based and
work well. Windshields can act like display units, uses GPS to work out where to pin the content,
there’s a strong supply of power from the car’s bat- this is like having the Wikipedia article for Brit-
tery and information like directions, traffic infor- ish museum pinned to the location of the Brit-
mation could be easily displayed and mapped on ish museum; and the other is image recognition
top of the real world. A big issue will be making based and uses visual clues to position the virtual
the displays prominent enough to be useful but content. This is like the webcam on your laptop
not distracting, obviously there are major issues positioning a virtual moustache on your face be-
with safety in cars. cause it knows which bit of the image is your face
Gaming is another area we’re likely to see a strong because of smart image recognition software.
take-up of AR - whether it’s enhanced Kinect style
devices that put the monsters to fight into your living
room and track your arms, making the image interact as
you punch it, or real-world games that involve people
running around with headsets seeing virtual bombs and
enemies overlaid on the real world. See Human Pac-
Man - the game where contestants in augmented reality
headsets chase each other through the streets for a fun
though ridiculous example of this.

GOOD AND GIMICKY AR As the obstacles


clear out of the way, developers can get on with
the business of making great applications using
Augmented Reality. AR needs creativity and some
really hard thinking about usefulness and user
experience to really make it mainstream.
To reconsider that - let’s drill down to just what
Augmented Reality is. It’s when the real world is con-
nected to the virtual world in a meaningful way. Gim-
micks happen when the AR is only pasted on top of
reality with no interaction or purpose. In some apps for Brands are increasingly using AR. Walt Disney
example, little cartoon figures will just be superimposed launched the worlds first Augmented Reality
outdoor campaign for Prince of Persia in May
on a picture of the real world and float around on top last year
Applications of geolocated AR include in-drive
navigation on cars, tourist guides and local discovery
engines. Consumer applications for image-recognition
Augment Reality’s
AR include anything to do with facial recognition or Howard Ogden
advertising - characters pop out of cereal packets and on the different
magazines. Industry has many uses for this kind of thing types of AR
- helping engineers fit parts of an engine together visu-
ally, for example.
Howard Ogden of AugmentReality and
MobiliStar is one of our favourite aug-
MAKING AR USEFUL The big challenge
mented reality developers. Based in Am-
facing AR is making that connection between the
sterdam, he has worked a lot with aug-
virtual world and the real world useful. The appeal mented reality platform Layar and made
of virtual reality is obvious. We know that people the ground-breaking Beatles AR app which
can spend hours and hours engrossed in virtual landed him headlines across the world. He
worlds like computer games or Second Life. tells about the Microsoft Kinect and his AR
Reality is, well, what we live in – we have no choice Shazam..
but to be interested in it.
But being neither real nor virtual - augmented real- Are we correct in thinking that the two
ity is a tricky thing to get right. It doesn’t have the fan- main branches of Augmented Reality are
tasy escape function of virtual reality – you’d never fire geolocated AR and image recognition AR?
up an AR app to escape from it all, same way you might We can use either location or computer vision
play World of Warcraft. As for the real world - well - the as triggers for AR content. Currently there’s
problem is that often when we’re doing things in the real only one mobile platform that can serve both
world we don’t want to be distracted from them. If you’re types of AR content (Junaio) but expect more
with your friends in the pub, for example you don’t want coming to market in the first half of 2011
to be looking at them through a screen, even if it lets you (Layar is developing an IR solution). Both
interact with their social media profiles. branches of AR are seeing a stratospheric rise
There are dangers to wandering the streets of a city in popularity, acceptance and usage.
with your eyes glued to a screen. We do That said, it shouldn’t matter how the
content is being served. We think the technol-
ogy behind the delivery of AR should remain
invisible to the end-user. The only clear dif-
ferentiation that should matter is whether the
user is static (i.e. in front of a fixed screen) or
mobile.
So if AR is to What are the advantages and general uses
work it needs to of geolocated AR?

pick up reality at The platforms that allow us to deliver Geo-lo-


cated AR content (Wikitude, Layar and Junaio)
the times when are cloud-based systems with API’s that can

reality isn’t quite be updated in real-time. This is great when


you have lots of evolving data (or points of
good enough or interest). For companies like Yellow Pages or
Funda (a Dutch real estate company) who we
needs to be worked with last year, this is perfect.

improved.
it now because we need to – to reply to that text or There are NO Computer Vision based AR
work out where we’re going on Google Maps, but would apps That can be trained to recognise more
we do it for pleasure? Would we do it constantly as a than 10 images. So that’s 10 experiences
kind of second vision? maximum from the one app.
Let’s be honest most of the time reality doesn’t need One drawback to this is that you always
augmentation. Most of the time it’s just fine and we don’t need a data connection or your phone to get
want a layer of slow-loading pixels intercepting between the content.
us and the people and things around us.
So if AR is to work it has to pick up reality at the What are the advantages and uses of AR
times when reality isn’t quite good enough or just needs based on image recognition?
to be improved. And it’s going to take some vision and Computer vision based AR apps have the
smarts to work out when, where and how to do that. advantage of being standalone. This means
Those will be the apps that we switch on everyday, and (generally) no data connection is needed to
they will be the ones that make their developers famous. view the content. It also means that the con-
Tim Maly, author of blog Quiet Babylon really sums tent itself can be more complex as it doesn’t
it up in an interesting conversation on social media site have to download over a wireless connection.
Quora: So expect to see high quality 3D animation,
“We will see improvements in enabling AR to con- sounds and multimedia in these types of
nect the real world (identified via Computer Vision, GPS apps. The drawback is the limitation of the
etc) to the online world. The intelligence of the connec- number of objects they can recognise.
tion, enabled via social/search/AI/magic/who-knows
will be a big factor in finding utility in an AR experience. We've seen AR in phones and now in
AR will abandon gee-whiz look-what-we-can-do in gaming consoles what other areas are we
favour of its usable destiny: Delivering information just- likely to see it in the near future?
in-time, just-in-space.” This year will be all about Tablets. Samsung
So let’s lose the gimmicks, improve the basic tech- are promoting their Galaxy tab heavily. Apple
nology, wait for external problems to be resolved and has v2 of the iPad – this time with cameras so
then set about working how and where the world needs we can get started on developing AR content
improving. When all this happens AR will really be the for that platform. We are also seeing a lot of
future. promise from Microsoft’s Kinect which has
already been hacked to deliver AR - perhaps
we’ll see the first commercial implementa-
tions of this shortly. AR Glasses too, Vuzix
have made some available now...

What other trends are likely to affect AR in


the short-term?
The chip manufacturers are taking AR seri-
ously. Qualcomm have released an AR de-
velopment kit and Intel just heavily invested
in Layar. The CEO of Metaio (an alternative
augmented reality platform) recently said his
company is in discussions about embedding
their platform into a chipset. This would be
a massive step forward as it would deliver
faster processing speed (and therefore more
WATCH: Leading Augmented Reality platform Layar demo capabilities) and lower battery consumption.
their new features and make aliens do battle over the
Amsterdam harbour
our 20 Most
wanted gadgets

From the crisp feel of an unbroken cellophane


seal or the tight pop of a never-before-opened
box, there’s nothing quite like getting your hands
on a brand new gadget for the very first time. To
save you the effort of sifting the tech-wheat from
the gizmo-chaff, we’ve compiled this list giving you
a glimpse of all that is set to be good and great
during the next few months of gadgetry.
by gerald lynch
20
the same Bravia Engine usually re-
served for Sony’s HDTVs, meaning
colour accuracy for media playback
SAMSUNG 9 3D MONITOR should be spot on, with an 8.1
megapixel snapper on the rear.
What is it? A PC monitor with a When is it coming out? Should
design so striking you’ll want it in be in the stores by the time you
your living room rather than your read this.

18
musty old office.
Why should you care? The at-
tention to detail on Samsung’s 9
Series 3D monitor makes it look
more like a prop from 2001: A SHARP AQUOS le935
Space Odyssey than an actual
real PC display. But real it is, and What is it? Sharp’s quad-pixel
it’s feature-filled to boot. Inspired Quattron HDTVs get an added third
by a folded piece of paper, not dimension.
only do you have that super-cool, Why should you care? They say
super-slim asymmetrical design bigger is better, and they really
to make your jaw hang around by don’t come much larger than this
your ankles, but you’re also getting stonking set from Sharp. 70 inches
a LED-backlit 3D-ready display, in size, it combines quality 3D
complete with glasses and a visuals with Sharp’s much-lauded
TV tuner. four-pixel colour tech to spice up
When is it coming out? We’re the TV’s colour range.
expecting to see them in stores by When is it coming out? Ready
Summer. from late Spring, you might have
to knock a wall out of your flat to

19
20
get it inside first.

SONY EXPERIA ARC

What is it? The smartphone


to put Sony Ericsson back on the
17
CASIO BLUETOOTH WATCH

map. What is it? A concept wristwatch


Why should you care? Sony Eric- that uses a Bluetooth connec-
18
sson have been given a fairly bad tion to pull notifications from your
rap recently for their use of the smartphone.
Android OS, but all will be forgiven Why should you care? - Going for
if the Xperia Arc proves to be as genuine usability rather than pipe-
good as our quick preview ses- dreams to supplement-rather-than-
sion suggested. Running Android replace your phone’s functions, the
2.3 Gingerbread with SE’s rubbish watchface shows caller IDs, text
Timescape social stream reduced and email previews and time zone
to a mere widget, it’s a super slim updates, as well as the ability to
smartphone with a beautiful 4.3 mute a ringing phone just by
inch TFT LCD screen. It’s using 17
2 0 Hottest ga d gets

15
tapping the display. Using the
Bluetooth Low Energy standard
means all this syncing wont be a
massive power drain, with Casio
CASIO TRYX
promising a two year
battery life. What is it? A compact camera
When is it coming out? Casio are that breaks the mould thanks to its
looking to get the tech into their twisty-turny frame.
next line of G-Shock watches, due Why should you care? The Tryx
out in the third quarter of 2011. doesn’t boast out of this world

16
specs (12.1 MP, wide-angle 21mm
lens with 1080p video recording
capabilities), but it does ooze great
design creativity. Hinged in two
LADY GAGA’S POLAREZ GL20 places, you can twist and turn the
3 inch touchscreen and sensor to
What is it? It’s what happens when almost any angle, with the chassis
you give the genuinely-slightly-men- acting as the camera’s own built-in
tal pop-princess Lady Gaga the title tripod.
of Creative Director at Polaroid. When is it coming out? Due im-
Why should you care? minently with an estimated RRP of
Because the Pokerface star’s ec- $249 (£160).

14
centricity has evolved into one of
the most creative camera designs
we’ve seen in an age. The Polarez
GL20s are worn like a pair of wrap-
around glasses, but feature a cam- SAMSUNG SLIDING PC 7 SERIES
era in the bridge. In the ultimate
turn of tech narcissism, this sensor What is it? A slick tablet/laptop
16
streams whatever the wearer is hybrid aimed at the indecisive tech
seeing to two outwardly facing fan.
1.4 inch OLED screens, meaning Why should you care? Tablets
whoever is gawping at you in the are great, but when it comes to
eye-catching specs will also be see- getting some actual work done,
ing exactly what your eyes are. We tapping away at a touchscreen is
think it is a genius idea, though we less than ideal. The best of both
are not quite sure exactly who will worlds, this tablet and netbook
be buying them when they finally mash-up boasts both a full hard-
go on sale. ware QWERTY keyboard and a
When is it coming out? Though sliding touchscreen that allows you 15

the “2011” release date is vague, to access loads of apps optimised


we’re chuffed that these mad for finger prodding. It’s got a rea-
frames are getting a retail release sonably impressive spec sheet too,
at all. powered by Intel’s 1.66GHz Z670
As for price, well we expect only Oak Trail processor, with a 1366 x
Gaga herself will be able to afford 768-resolution, 10.1-inch 340-nit
them though. display, 32GB / 64GB SSD options,
and 2GB of RAM. 14
When is it coming out? We’re recording and playback, extensive
expecting to see this bastard child email support and of course the
of a laptop and a tablet touchdown excellent BBM instant messaging
later in the summer, and it will set service, with a bezel that hides
you back around $699 (£440). secret touch controls.

13
When is it out? Expected to hit
stores this summer, you’re looking
at £300+ price tag.

PIONEER NETWORK VISION

What is it? An exciting


in-car laser projected navigation
system that syncs with your smart-
11
SONY 3D OLED TV

phone. What is it? The best example of


Why should you care? A laser glasses-free 3D we’ve seen this
projector that sits on your dash- year.
board, it hooks up to your smart- Why should you care? We all
phone to beam mapping data, want to embrace the 3D revolution
directions, caller IDs and poten- that’s taking place in TV Land right
tially any other web-connected now but, boy, do those 3D glasses
notifications like Facebook updates feel uncomfortable! Autostereos-
directly onto the inside of your copy, as employed by Sony in this
windscreen. sweet OLED screen, is the way
When is it coming out? Hope- forward, allowing for 3D without
fully soon, but potentially never. any glasses. It’s a technology still
Due to safety concerns Pioneer in its infancy, but is improving
will have to jump through some every time we see it.
serious hoops to make this one When is it coming out? No pric- 12
road-worthy! ing or release info yet, but with

12
Toshiba planning on getting their
own (inferior) autosteroscopic
screen out before the end of the
year, we’d imagine Sony will be
BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK following suit sometime in 2012.

10
What is it? RIM’s answer to the
11
iPad.
Why should you care? Aimed
predominately at BlackBerry-own- NINTENDO 3DS
ing business types, this is the first
tablet that’s designed to let you What is it? Nintendo’s follow up
get some work done. Running the to the DS, now with added 3D
QNX OS, the 7 inch touchscreen visuals!
tablet will let you run two screens Why should you care? - Not only
simultaneously off the device, is the Nintendo 3DS far more pow-
perfect for giving presentations via erful than its predecessor, but the
a projector. You’ll also get full HD 3D visuals it’s 10
2 0 Hottest ga d gets

8
touting are of the glasses-less
kind. A slider on the side of the
dual-screen handheld lets you
set the intensity of the 3D effect,
razer switchblade
and while it works, early reports
are suggesting it’s going to be an What is it? A tiny laptop/ tablet
acquired taste with the depth set- hybird with one of the most inven-
tings turned up to the max. Still, tive keyboards we’ve ever come
even with the 3D visuals toned across.
down you’re getting a super-cool Why should you care? If you’re a
bit of kit, with a built in 3D stills PC gamer, the Razer Switchblade
camera, augmented reality smarts is pretty much the portable device
and Nintendo’s three-decades you’ve been dreaming of. Tiny at
worth of videogame-development just 7 inches, the Switchblade is
expertise. thought to be using the Oak Trail
When is it coming out? Launched processor, keeping it slim, cool,
at the end of March it retails for near-silent and relatively powerful.
around the £200. The display is a touchscreen, with

9
a sleek media-browsing interface
that’s just crying out to be stroked.
But the coolest bit of all is the LCD
keyboard, which automatically
sony bloggie 3d changes the function of each key
depending on the application you
What is it? - An affordable, pocket- are using, lighting up with a differ-
able 3D camcorder from a com- ent symbol as necessary.
pany that’s going for 3D cameras When is it coming out? Techni-
big time. cally still a concept piece (if a very
Why should you care? 3D televi- advanced one) we’re still unlikely
sion may be the future, but there’s to see this in shops until 2012.
9

7
still a dearth of 3D content to make
buying one of the expensive sets
worthwhile. The Bloggie 3D will let
you shoot your own Avatar alter-
native without breaking the bank, lg st6000 tv upgrader
squeezing in dual 1080p lenses
into a unit no bigger than a mobile What is it? Instant web-
phone. It is small and light and connectivity for your crusty old
pretty simple to use too. Sony has HDTV set.
also packed it out with plenty of Why should you care? LG’s
innovative and interesting features Smart TV platform is an intuitive, 8
too. app-centric way of accessing web
When is it coming out? - You’ll be content from a big screen TV, but
able to slip a Bloggie 3D into your not everyone is going to have the
trouser pocket any day now. We dough to upgrade their set to a
think it will be priced somewhere brand new
in the region of 250 quid.
7
5
LG one just to go online. The LG
ST600 Smart TV Upgrader is the
solution, being a small add-on that
connects to your home network
sony 3d visor concept
via your TV’s HDMI. Once connect-
ed, you can browse online con- What is it? A Tron-style headset
tent and check out all manner of that provides the wearer with their
widget-based web treats such as own immersive
YouTube and your own networked personal 3D display.
DLNA content. Why should you care? The tech
When is it coming out? No of- entertainment equivalent of a one-
ficial date yet, but we’re guessing man band, it packs all the compo-
around late Spring/ early Summer. nents of a great multi-component
It shouldn’t cost any more than AV set-up in a single device that
£100. you can wear with relative com-
fort. Sliding over your head like one

6
of those old-school virtual reality
helmets, a quick set-up optimises
two tiny OLED screens in front
of your eyes for video content of
motorola atrix
the third-dimensional kind. Totally
What is it? A mad dual-core smart- immersive, you can turn your head
phone/laptop hybrid thanks to its anywhere and not lose track of the
unique docking bay. Includes 4G action, with the built in pseudo 5.1
connectivity in the US. surround sound speakers pumping
Why should you care? Because soundtracks and sound effects into
it’s not only an excellent Android your ears. Sony’s visor would be
smartphone (with a beautiful perfect for a late night 3D gaming
6
4-inch touchscreen, 1GHz dual- session that doesn’t disturb the
core processor and 4G connection neighbours.
where available), but also a fully When is it coming out? No time
featured workstation. The Atrix soon; this one is just a Sony ex-
manages this via its truly innova- periment at the moment, the big
tive Laptop Dock; a slim keyboard teases...
and monitor set-up that springs to

4
life when powered solely by the
smartphone. With the two devices
5
paired, you can use all manner of
web-based apps to get some real lg optimus 2x
work done.
When is it coming out? May in What is it? The world’s first
the UK for the standard Atrix, but commercially available dual-core
you’ll be waiting some time for the smartphone, previously known as
superfast 4G connection as that the LG Optimus Star.
won’t hit the UK’s mobile net- Why should you care? The Opti-
works until at least 2015. Doh! mus 2X is the first Android handset
we’ve seen to match iOS devices
for slickness 4
2 0 Hottest ga d gets

thanks to its NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual- versions of their operating system


core processor. Multi-tasking, web have not been optimised for tablet-
browsing with Flash content, mes- sized screens; Honeycomb is. The
saging, HD video and polygonal Xoom backs the intuitive new-look
gaming is a breeze for the smart- OS with an incredibly impressive
phone, while the super-bright 4 spec sheet too, packing in a 10.1
inch screen looked really lush and inch capacitive multitouch screen,
vibrant too. dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz
When is it coming out? On sale processor, 720p recording capabili-
now for around £450. ties, full HD video playback, front

3
and rear-facing cameras and a
forthcoming update to allow for 4G
mobile internet in the territories
where it’s available.
When is it coming out? - Should
sony NGP
be on sale now with pricing set at
What is it? Sony’s ridiculously around £500.

1
powerful follow-up to the PSP.
Why should you care? A four-
core ARM Cortex-A9 processor
makes the NGP handheld games
console able to play titles graphi- apple ipad 2
cally comparable to that of a full
blown PS3, with a touchscreen What is it? The sequel to Apple’s
OLED display rendering them in infamous game-changing tablet.
3
pinsharp quality. It has the po- Why should you care? Only the
tential to be the most graphically iPad 2 has access to the sleek iOS
impressive portable device of all software and hundreds of thou-
time, barring perhaps some high- sands of apps. With a much slim-
end gaming laptops. mer and lighter design, front and
When is it coming out? No rear cameras, a 1.2Ghz dual-core
word yet on a UK launch, but safe A5 processor and new Apple-built
money would see it hitting stores apps including Garageband and
before Christmas. iMovie, it’s as “magical” as its

2
predecessor.
2
When is it coming out? You can
get one now. You know you want
to.
motorola xoom

What is it? The “Daddy” of CES


2011 tablets, it’s the first slate
device to make use of Google’s
Android version 3.0 “Honeycomb”
OS.
Why should you care? - Because
this is an Android tablet done right.
By Google’s own admission, earlier 1
tec h n od e
o pi n ion

Has Europe
lost the the
mobile battle?
With the iPhone and Android ruling the mobile roost,
most of the serious phone development appears to be
coming from North America. But Europe does still
boast MWC, the world's biggest mobile show.

A
by gerald lynch
s another February passes, the GSMA once again close the
doors on the annual Mobile World Congress telecoms con-
ference. Held each year since 1987, initially under the GSM
World Congress banner, 2011’s event saw record numbers of
over 60,000 attendees file through the gates of the Fira Mountjuic exhibition
centre in Barcelona as the leading lights in mobile communications software
and hardware came together to flaunt their wares.
However, while the gadget-loving hordes flocked to continental Spain
to glean info on the latest mobile technology, a sea change in the industry
over the last few years makes MWC’s Barcelona setting seem ever-more dis-
placed. The European telecoms old-guard seem to be increasingly falling
behind their transatlantic rivals.
For example, 3G mobile internet found its first foothold on the conti-
nent, launching in March 2003 in the UK via the Three network while our
US counterparts wept into their 2G-only cells. Less than a decade on and
Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile USA are all leading the superfast 4G
mobile broadband charge (with both LTE and WiMAX) whilst we bemoan
our increasingly redundant last-gen connections, with at least two or three
more years before any comparable service crosses the pond.
Then there is the battle of the handset manufacturers. Nokia, once the
go-to company for innovative phones has been totally left behind in the
smartphone stakes, while Apple’s iPhone and mobiles making use of Google’s
Android platform reap the sales rewards.
Too concerned with proprietary operating systems and chasing mega-
pixels (see the N8 flop), the Finnish company has all-but conceded defeat by
bunking up with Microsoft, who will ensure future high-end Nokia handsets
tow the party line when running their Windows Phone 7 operating system.
Many had expected Nokia to side with Google in the smartphone OS stakes,
a sentiment shared by exiting chief Executive Eric Schmidt:
“We would’ve loved if they would have chosen Android; they chose the
other guys,” he said.
“I think we were pretty straightforward. We would like them to adopt
Android at some point in the future; that offer remains open. We think An-
droid was a good choice for Nokia, and we’re sorry they made a different
choice. “
And sorry Nokia may very well end-up: where they were once sitting
pretty on piles of cash in the low-to-mid range handset market, the increas-
ing prevalence of cheap Android devices casts a shadow over their long-term
fortunes in that area too.
MWC’s hottest It seems almost grovelling then for the GSMA to award Apple’s iPhone
new phones 4 the ‘Handset of the Year 2011’ prize, considering the Cupertino company’s
Your complete guide to continued snubbing of the event; it’s a bit like the nerdy kid pleading with the
who launched what prettiest girl in school to turn up at his birthday party. The mobile monopoly
has certainly migrated from Europe to pastures new.
LG A 1GHz dual-core processor from
That’s not to say that the other Texas Instruments powers the
manufacturers didn’t bring their handset, with a dual-lens camera ar-
A-game to Barcelona though. There ray on the rear for 3D still shooting
were still stellar offerings on show and video recording. Highlighting
from LG, HTC and Sony Ericsson the dearth of 3D content available,
among others. LG have also inked a deal with
Firstly, smartphone offerings. LG YouTube to bring their 3D channel
were already off to a flying start to the smartphone and allowing all
to the year with their dual-core LG Optimus 3D owners to upload to
Optimus 2X and 4G LG Revolution the channel from within a device-
handsets onshow at CES in Janu- specific Android app, in essence
ary. These again made an appear- creating a user-generated ecosys-
ance at MWC, but were now very tem of 3D videos for the handset.
much overshadowed by the LG
Optimus 3D. Billed as the first 3D HTC
capable smartphone (though the HTC’s flagship offerings were a
Docomo SH-03C/Sharp Lynx has little more prosaic. “S” branded
just as valid a claim to that title), it sequels to the Desire and Wildfire
features a 4.3 inch parallax barrier made sturdy improvements on their
MWC 2011 saw high profile mobile
display for glasses-free 3D visuals. predecessors (greater launches from the likes of LG and HTC.
storage, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 1080p increased dominance of tablet
HD video recording, Android Gin- devices at the show, of which there
gerbread. You name it, the Galaxy were many lust-worthy offerings
S II seems to have it tucked away available from multiple manufactur-
inside. The original Galaxy S sold ers.
some 10 million units, and we see
no reason why the Galaxy S II can’t LG
match that. Again LG put on a promising display
with another 3D enabled device,
Sony Ericsson the Optimus Pad. Packing Android
Sony Ericsson kept the gaming con- 3.0 Honeycomb into its 8.9 inch
tingent happy by finally unveiling frame, the dual-core tablet is zippy
Sony Ericsson’s long promised PSP
the long-rumoured and often-leaked enough to handle multiple memory
phone - the Xperia Play - finally arrived Xperia Play handset, AKA the PSP intensive apps at once. However,
at MWC 2011.
Phone. Running Android 2.3 with what should have been killer 3D
storage, newer builds of Android, a 4 inch touchscreen, it’s the first functionality proves a little moot;
faster processing power), but now handset to come with PlayStation recording in stereoscopic 3D, it
lacked the “wow-factor” that those certification thanks to its slide-out outputted to a 3D-ready HDTV fine
handsets landed with in their first gaming keypad. As well as the in this format, but was restricted to
iterations. However, two notewor- usual raft of Android games, you’ll old-fashioned anaglyph (red/cyan)
thy devices were launched in the be able to download titles from glasses viewing when playing back
shape of the QWERTY packing HTC the first PlayStation home console on the slate itself.
ChaCha and HTC Salsa phones. direct to the smartphone, as well
While not processing powerhouses as eventually sharing the same HTC
and certainly not high-edn smart- PlayStation Suite functionality as HTC took a slightly different tact to
phones, each featured a dedicated seen in the forthcoming Sony NGP the recent wave of finger-friendly
Facebook button, allowing users to handheld console beast. tablets with their Flyer device.
update their statuses within a few While still a touch-savvy
seconds of booting up the phones, Tablets
and represent the first partnership Most interesting though was the
of their kind between Zuckerberg’s
all-powerful social empire and a
handset manufacturer. I think we’ll
see more Facebook/HTC collabora-
tion later in the year.

Samsung
LG’s MWC 2011 offering was very innovative and different, while HTC took a different
Samsung’s refresh of the Galaxy S, tack offering subtle upgrades of existing handsets.
in the shape of the Galaxy S II, was
a little more exciting. Impossible
thin at 8.49mm thick, it feels light
enough to blow away in your hand.
It makes it all the more impressive
then to consider all the features
Samsung have managed to pack in
under the 4.27 inch super AMOLED
touchscreen; NFC technology, 4G
networking, as much as 32GB of
n e xt gen mo bil es

touchscreens, the concept of apps


and download portals; these have
all been pioneered in smartphones,
and are now proven successes.
The popularity of Apple’s iPad has
shown that just repackaging these
in a larger form, coupled with some
savvy marketing, can give these
gadgets a “magical” air. And to
consumers that equates to highly
desirable devices.

The devices lend themselves


equally well in terms of ongoing
partnerships with mobile network
providers; the need for a mobile
data connection in many cases
It seems quite likely that MWC 2012 will see as many tablet launches as it will
mobile phone handset debuts. keeps the networks happy, continu-
ing the symbiotic relationship with
capacitive number, 7 inches in size, handsets for instance; these are not the hardware manufacturers as
it comes complete with a stylus for examples of innovation, but of con- they offer subsidised units and reap
precise annotation and note taking, vergence, only bringing gaming or the rewards of lucrative data
whereas many other companies 3D elements together with existing packages. Don’t be surprised if the
have veered away from pen input mobile standards rather than trying next Mobile World Congress show
as it remains so closely associated to re-invent the wheel. throws up an equal split between
with the disappointing early wave tablet and smart- phone launches.
of resistive-screen tablets. Pow- It has once again become a num-
ered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm core, bers-and-gimmicks hardware race,
the Flyer also represents the first as manufacturers push for faster
fruits of HTC’s recent partnership processors, higher-pixel density in
with the OnLive game streaming screens and so on and so forth. The
service, bringing console quality fact also stands that almost every-
gaming to the device by sending one now has a functioning mobile
a video stream of titles played via phone of sorts, even if it is not a
remote super computers to the smartphone; tablets still represent
slate’s screen. a brand new proposition for the
majority of consumers.
Why networks love Tablets Tablets offer a fantastic new opportunity
So why the big push towards tablet Despite the allure of a new form for networks, especially if they can offer
the devices at subsidised prices.
devices from pretty much every factor from a consumer point of
major exhibitor at MWC 2011? view, relatively little new tech-
While it’s difficult to say the smart- nology has been needed for the
phone market is saturated (low-to- development of the tablet designs
mid range devices still dominate too, making them a natural product
worldwide sales) the show did re- progression for smartphone manu-
veal a lack of innovation somewhat facturers, and a reasonably safe and
in smartphone design. inexpensive investment to boot.
Take the Xperia Play or Optimus 3D 3G and 4G technologies, capacitive
tec h n od e
o pi n ion

The Facebook Protests


T
1
Public demos he protests in the Middle East have radically changed how we
have come a long think about social media. From being something for the social
John Stillwell/PA Wire

lives of college kids to being a tool that can bring down govern-
way from the days
ments and change the balance of global power – the real impor-
of home made tance of the software Mark Zuckerberg created in his dorm room has come
placards and a long way in 7 years. The impact of social media has been felt in media, in
chants of Maggie advertising and retail, but never before in politics. Now we have felt it.
out. We look at But opinion is divided as to how important it actually is. Big hitters
how social make claims both ways - sociology guru Malcolm Gladwell, along with
networking has Techcrunch and the New Statesman, argues that social media was a mi-
nor player in a revolt that was really all to do with long-standing political
empowered a new
tensions, but the Guardian and The Next Web
generation of counter claim that Facebook’s horizontal social Protestors cross Waterloo
activists Bridge to join the TUC
network provided the framework in which the March For The Alternative
in London to protest against
revolution could take place... Government spending cuts
by anna leach in March 2011.
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

But in all the discussion of people power and the Protesters stand next
to a fire following a
revolution, what tended to be lacking was a look at march by thousands
what you can and can’t do with Facebook or Twitter: of students protest-
ing against tuition
how the software actually works and how people re- fees in London,
November 2010
spond to it.
Being techies, not political analysts, we’d just like
to look at how social media can help to organise and document a protest.
What on Facebook and Twitter will cause people to actually get up, get out
and start protesting on the streets?
A UK UNcut flashmob take to the
London streets to demand Philip Green I want to look specifically at a situation we in Britain are familiar with
pays his taxes in December 2010 and understand much better than the Arab Spring – the protests and riots in
Britain in the past year.
The massing of 50,000 students in London in November 2010 and con-
sequent riot was the first time in a generation anything like that had hap-
pened. It was a reaction to the Higher Education Act by the new government
which tripled fees for students and took away maintenance grants for poor
sixth-formers. It was the most significant example of a wave of activism -
from Climate Change protests (involving stunts like presenting Nick Clegg
with a giant Viagra tablet) to flashmobs on TopShop and other tax-evading
businesses by new organisation, UKUncut.
Timeline:
Technology
and political
demonstrations
in the UK
We talked to long-standing climate change activist Deborah Grayson
about how this new breed of activism is organised online and what makes
it successful...
In this new strain of political activism, technology has been present
Martin Keene PA Archive

from the very start... forums sprang up after the Conservative party victory
of disenfranchised young lefties and out of the “what shall we do next” con-
versations sprang up three or four groups which have been behind much of
POLL TAX RIOTS, 1990
the activism of the past few months - including UKUncut and False Econ-
A peaceful march against omy.
the very unpopular Poll Deborah emphasises that this was an addition to real-world contact
Tax turned into a massive that had already existed.
riot with parts of Central “We all knew each others’ faces” - but that the space and structure al-
London vandalised and lowed for more to be achieved than could have been with just traditional
more than 500 means.
demonstrators arrested. Similarly with the organisation of the protests: pre-existing organisa-
Key Tech Mobile phones tions like Student Unions were enhanced by online tools. So Student Unions
have been available in the organised transport, placards and meeting points and shared the details with
UK for a few years but their members on Facebook, then Facebook users shared the event among
they were very much the
their friends and also crucially, their feelings about it.
preserve of flashy busi-
Facebook was useful for two things 1) being a noticeboard where all the
ness types.
details could be easily found and shared. And 2) allowing for the spread of
feelings - anger at the threat to education, disappointment at the jobs market
- feelings that were essential in making the events significant.
Otherwise, as Deborah says - people don't pay attention to Event re-
Peter Jordan/PA Archive

minders.
“I don’t know about you, but I have hundreds of invitations to things
that I don’t look at, at all. If I just email an invitation to everyone, it gets lost.
Facebook actually make it quite hard to invite lots of people – it can take 2
ANTI-CAPITALIST hours to invite a hundred people.
PROTESTS, 1999 “Facebook is a way to put all the information out there in one place,
Anti-capitalist protestors it’s not a way to get people to come to stuff. You have to send an individual
caused 2 million pounds email, write a personal message, post on individual people’s walls..”
($3.2 million) worth of dam-
With the 2010 demos it wasn’t just one person contacting thousands,
age to London. Demonstra-
it was friend to friend, thousands contacting thousands. But that’s an usual
tors clashed with riot police,
situation - there needs to be a really strong general feeling for that to work.
burnt cars and attacked
buildings. Twitter is a natural tool for a live event and came into its own dur-
Key tech By 1999 mobile ing the protests. Official accounts like @ucloccupation and @ukuncut used
adoption had rocketed but Twitter to announce movements, changes, speakers and acted as a local
phones were not widely news service for protest. Protesters there, all equipped with smartphones
used tweeted what was going on around them – what they were doing, what the
police were doing.
FACEBO O K PROTESTS

by the protestors in this


demonstration. Cross
network SMS was only
introduced in 1998.

ANTI IRAQ WAR


PROTEST, 2003
The UK’s biggest The information quickly became documentation - the hashtag trended,
demonstration with one people outside the protest retweeted tweets from within, and fed in messag-
million people urging the es of support and external information from mainstream media. The same
government to pull back thing happened on Facebook – though to a smaller extent.
from war with Iraq. A very At the protests, 3G internet went down very quickly, phone signal was
good natured demo with erratic and went down at the peak of the protest, and mobile phone batteries
only one arrest. ran out particularly in the 7-9 hours kettles that police trapped protesters
Key tech Early adopters in.
were using first gen smart- There are of course disadvantages to using social media to organise
phones like the XDA to ac- protests. The biggest one is that you really don’t know who else is monitoring
cess the web, but mostly the conversations. For example it has been suggested that having published
contact between protes-
plans on Facebook allowed the police to kettle protestors.
tors was by text messag-
In Britain, we live in a democratic society and battles are rarely physical
ing. Social media was still
ones, they’re more about telling the story. That battle to tell the story is one
several years away.
that’s waged between protestors and police and between social media and
traditional media.
Simon Dawson/AP/Press Association Images

It’s not just that social media and technology gives more power to the peo-
ple - it also gives more power to any one who can use it well.
In the future social media could get co-opted by smart governments
too - stuff like Facebook’s plan to use facial recognition to auto-tag faces
would give them a database of the world’s faces that could easily be used by
police to identify offenders.
Increasingly social networks are going to face political pressure and
political decisions - when do they give information to the police? When do
STUDENT
PROTESTS, 2010
they co-operate with authoritarian regimes? Just like Google’s dithering over
Demos in November and China there are some tough decisions ahead and in many respects CEOs of
December against govern- major technology companies aren’t really best placed to make these calls.
ment plans for higher edu- So social media is not just a new tool for the people, it’s also a new
cation resulted in damaged battlefield. However, Deborah, along with many others, holds out one hope
buildings and smashed for how social media can outsmart an organised authoritarian regime.
shop windows as well There is something about the horizontal structure of social media that
as injured protestors and has its own advantages: “with social media is that everyone can talk to every-
police officers. one else and when that’s working well, information spreads very fast hori-
Key tech Social media zontally, in that case it’s really difficult for a top-down organisation like the
played a huge role in the police to track that or counter it because they have to go up the hierarchy
organisation of the demon-
and get commands before they can take any action.”
strations. How influential
Perhaps there is something inherently democratic about Facebook and
smartphones were in influ-
other social network sites after all. Whether they are going to be a force
encing the way the demon-
strations evolved is still a for good in the world is a moot point, but they certainly will be a force for
hotly contested issue. change.
tec h n od e
o pi n ion

4G
the

4G
4G
4G future
How the next
generation of mobile
technology could
mean that paying
for data is a thing
of the past
by ASHLEY NORRIS
II
am sitting on a coach which is driving round the Secondly the popularity of web connected devices
centre of the Russian city of St Petersburg watch- means that operators might not have a choice but to
ing high definition videos streamed to my laptop. upgrade.
There’s no drop out and the picture quality is per- As Stephen Rayment CTO, BelAir Networks (a
fect. And the magic that is making all this possible is a leading mobile wireless broadband solutions provider)
mobile technology called 4G provided by a company says The £22 billion raised from auctioning of the 3G
called Yota. licences was largely a speculative move as operators
4G, which is already available across parts of the weren’t completely sure how the spectrum would be
globe, is heralded by its champions as the technol- used. Now, the vast surges in data consumption are
ogy that will change the way in which we use mobile wreaking havoc across 3G networks, particularly in
devices (phones, laptops and tablets) both at home and areas of high user concentration. Consequently, buy-
on the move. All the things we use high speed broad- ing new spectrum is no longer a speculative move for
band for at home, like high definition video, running mobile operators it’s an absolute necessity.’
multiple connections etc, will be available anywhere we LTE 4G operators are expected to offer more ag-
go. gressive data tarrifs for their services. In the US Veri-
Over a decade ago now mobile phone companies zon Wireless rolled out its LTE 4G network to 38 cities
across the globe spent heavily in buying 3G spectrum in and in a sign of what might follow has undercut
from governments, promising that it would deliver the its 3G tariffs offering consumers 4G at $10 a month
Internet on the go. Since then we have seen glimpses cheaper. Clearwire and T-Mobile already offer US cus-
of mobile broadband (especially with technological tomer 4G systems using the rival WiMAX system.
advancements like HSPA) but for most users the web ‘I anticipate a price battle, for sure,’ Tolaga Re-
on a mobile device is nothing like the experience they search analyst Phil Marshall told US website Computer
have at home. It is slower, clunkier and most impor- World. ‘Price is what these guys are going to be focused
tantly much much more expensive. Which might make on to try to drive demand to their networks.’
consumers just that little bit cynical about 4G. So And in what might be a tantalising twist some net-
should they be? works are suggesting that 4G services could be free to
In the UK Telecoms regulator Ofcom will start the consumer with operators making their money from
auctioning off the 4G mobile spectrums in 2012, with ancillary services.
the goal of securing nationwide coverage. We will have ‘In a few years Internet access as a paid service
to wait until 2014 before we get to enjoy the benefits of won’t exist any more’, argues Rodion Shishkov, the
4G. VP Services of 4G company Yota. ‘Rather than collect
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: ‘The auc- subscriptions from customers providers will make their
tion is of significant importance to the wider economy. money by charging third parties to use their networks
It will support a wide range of data services that are fast to offer services to consumers like banking, music and
becoming essential features of the modern world.’ video.’
There are other compelling reasons why 4G (and Shishkov adds that his company Yota, which
indeed LTE) might become a worldwide mobile Inter- has 4G networks in Russia and South America and is
net platform. Firstly lots of countries might go straight launching in several more countries in 2011, will pio-
for 4G and bypass home broadband and 3G and not neer the free web in the next couple of years. He also
just in the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, believes that both US and Western European networks
India and China) but also in other developing nations will adopt a similar approach soon after.
like Ghana, Argentina and the Philippines.
4G FUTURE

What is 4G?

4G is the next generation network for


mobile broadband. It comes in a couple of key
flavours WiMAX and LTE (Long Term Evolution).
In theory it will mean that mobile devices from
phones through to tablet PCs will be able to de- ‘We are seeking new partners to develop this busi-
liver data at speeds that even outpace your home ness model,’ adds Shishkov. ‘We are about to launch
broadband system. Yota Bank and we can see that there are many other
companies that could develop their business using our
LTE, the main 4G format (ie the one that we’ll get network. I think in particular that video communica-
in the UK) provides downlink peak rates of at least tions could prove to be very successful.’
100 Mbps, an uplink of at least 50 Mbps, though So could networks offer consumers web access for
of course we all know that it will be a lot less than free via 4G? LTE 4G networks are cheaper to run as
this in the real world. Nevertheless that is still they make more efficient use of radio spectrum than
much faster than the speeds we have with 3G. It 3G. It is unlikely that telecoms companies will pay the
could also signal the deathknell for home wired inflated amounts they paid governments for 3G li-
broadband connections as your laptop/tablet PCs cences. So cheaper/free options may prove more viable.
will have LTE compatibility built in or added via a The set up costs of creating the 4G network are also
dongle, so you won’t need a wired connection. cheaper than 3G and it is likely that most 4G providers
will focus on cities rather than offering blanket cover-
WiMAX has slower speeds and is unlikely to be age across a country.
adopted in the UK. Nevertheless it is big-ish news The theory then runs that companies like Yota will
in the US with both T-Mobile and Spring already offer free web in emerging markets like Russia, Brazil,
boasting WiMAX networks. India, Africa etc and agree deals with banks, entertain-
ment companies to offer services which previously
As for LTE 4G you can already access it if you live haven’t been available in those countries. Then the
in some US cities, Russia, bits of Sweden and a free web will undergo a domino effect as bigger multi-
few other places. The big story in the US is that national players like Vodafone or T-Mobile then offer a
it first LTE 4G network launched in December by free service in the United States or Western Europe.
Verizon and AT&T have also indicated that its 4G So are Yota’s predictions likely to come true? It
network will go live later in 2011. There was also a would be a seismic shift for the industry to adopt a free
slew of LTE 4G mobile phone announcements at model giving up billions of pounds of revenue along
CES in January notably HTC’s Thunderbolt, Sam- the way.
sung’s Infuse (below) and LG’s Revolution. There is also the prospect of some new
players in the 4G world. If the future is based around
As for Apple the sensible mobile broadband and data it would not be beyond
money is on an LTE phone the realms of possibility that companies like Google
launching in 2012. 4G will and Microsoft looked at buying 4G spectrum in key
finally be the missing piece in countries and using it to develop their services in an
the iPhone jigsaw, the element integrated way. Imagine how powerful it would be for
that takes the phone from be- say Google to own the operating system on the devices
ing a glorified iPad touch to a as well as the means in which they connect to the web.
truly connected go anywhere 4G is likely to have a profound effect not just on
Internet handset. the way we use mobile broadband but how the tele-
coms industry develops over the next decade. Interest-
ing times are ahead.
How
code is
changing
art
N
I
Once the early every aspect of our daily lives is mediated through com-
puter technology, so it comes as no surprise the art world has
preserve of
also been significantly impacted by this digitisation of culture.
the geek, Walter Benjamin in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical
programming Reproduction (1936) explored the influence of technology on art and com-
code is pared old and new forms of expression, ie. the traditional/singular works of
a new raw art such as a painting versus technically reproducible forms such as photog-
material that raphy and film. He correctly believed new mediums would have an increas-
artists and ing importance and influence on Western culture.
Now 75 years later we are witnessing the progression and development
designers can
of these mediums as a new breed of digital artists begin to emerge and thrive.
use to create These artists are using new technologies to change the way art is created, dis-
digital art. tributed, sold and displayed.
They are using innovative new technology to create works that include
by LAURA SCOTT
photopainting, digital collage, integrated digital art, virtual reality, holo-
grams, fractals, and more. For them technology has increased the number
of tools through which they can express their vision and create new works
of art.
They are completely reliant on coding and technology to do everything
from controlling lighting to video effects. This shift in artistic production
forces us to think about how our relationships and interaction with art are
affected.
The digitisation of art has made its production accessible in a way that
many traditional formats could never be, and while many argue that it is a
democratisation of culture, there is a fear that talent is being flooded out
and drowned in a vast digital ocean of mass culture. Artists are increasingly
turning into creative programmers who use code to create new and innova-
Top: Divide By Zero by Hellicar & Lewis tive visual displays.
But if art starts to become all about coding what happens to the value of
United Visual Artists created the
stunning backdrops on the Massive the actual works of art. If it is something that can be mass-produced or has
Attack world tour in 2010 no tangible existence, is there still a monetary value to it?
Shane Walter is the creative director and co-founder of onedotzero, a
company that’s been exploring new forms and hybrids of the moving im-
age for many years, and is in many ways a leader of this new digital culture.
Walter often speaks of the massive transformation of a number of industries
not just the arts over the last 15 years. “It is a backdrop to an ever-evolving
creative playground where art forms have collided,” he explains.
“Hybrid creators have risen and more importantly the appetite of the
audience has skewed to a more progressive and diverse entertainment expe-
rience,” adds Walter.
He argues that the digitisation of the creative realm is a reflection of a
true cultural revolution. Those who are involved in creative processes are the
same people who have grown up with access to computers and digital tools,
and have witnessed how it has reshaped their world. Cross media thinking,
Web 2.0 attitude, communities, and collaborative production are there to
offer new forms of art that mix cinema with clubbing, theatre with photog-
raphy, graphics with live music, opera with computer gaming.
Data visualisation, crowd sourcing, and open source are all playing a
major role in digital art and the way we interact with it as a society. It is this
that’s helping to reinvent the image of the programmer. In the past they were
not seen as “creative” types. Now as Walter points out “code is, in its purest
form, a new raw material that artists and designers can shape and sculpt in
myriad ways to create interactive art, generative designs, and stunning mo-
tion sequences. I really see this shift having an impact on art, culture, and
entertainment as we move forward.”
Digital art is merging the hi-tech with creativity. This has, not surpris-
ingly, taken art away from the gallery space. Digital Art is a bricoloage of
styles and mediums often used to enhance the live experience. Artists such
as United Visual Artists have used lighting to enhance the live performances
of musicians, such as, Massive Attack, Jay Z, U2 and Chemical Brothers,
turning their audiences into active participants and collaborators.
Digital arts ability to live outside the gallery through limitless medi-
ums has made the live experience of art more important. The aura around
art now lies in the way in which we can interact with it and how it creates
experience.
Art is more accessible then ever and is increasingly becoming a part of
our public space. It is less exclusive and more interactive then ever before.
However, if anyone can now be an artist, will there be a future for the profes-
sional artist, or will the artist be forced to
DI G I TAL ART

Five of our favourite


digital artists
Jason Bruges
An experimental artist with a history of producing striking
installations in public places, Bruges and his team recently
worked on a distinctive illuminated facade for the W Hotel in
London’s Leicester Square.

Our favourite though is his virtual platform at Sunderland


station which was unveiled in 2010. Behind a three metre
glass wall a disused platform has been turned into a hive of
virtual activity with ghostly characters walking up and down
the platform waiting for their train. Bruges is also rumoured
to be involved in an installation on one of the bridges to the
Olympics stadium where those crossing will be able to race
against a shadowy version of the world’s fastest athletes.

Brian Eno
The one time maverick synth genius behind Roxy Music
who then became a key player in the development of ambi-
ent and experimental music, Eno has also played a signifi-
cant role in digital art. One of his most acclaimed works
is 77 million paintings, a program that creates endlessly
unique individual paintings which are then accompanied by
innovative ambient soundtracks.

Chris Levine
Levine is perhaps best known for his extraordinary, holo-
graphic portraits of Queen Elizabeth which were created
for the channel island of Jersey back in 2004. The artist has
also taken his laser and light driven work to major music
festivals creating a stunning backdrop to a series of events
at the Eden Project in 2009.

Quayola
An Italian artist currently working in London, Quayola is a
hugely versatile individual who creates everything from in-
stallations and AV performances through to videos and web
pages. His art is very much at the cutting edge between
graphics, video and coding.

David Hockney From top: Jason Bruges


W Hotel in London. Jason
The legendary British artist is one of a growing number of Bruges Virtual Platform.
people who are using Apple’s iPad as a high tech canvas. in 77 Million Paintings
created by Brian Eno.
2010 he worked on a series called Fleurs Fraiches, or Fresh Chris Levine Light. A short
excerpt of Topologies by
Flowers, which was displayed in Paris and featured work Quayola. David Hockney
created using several apps including Brushes. Fleurs Fraiches
A still from Brian Eno’s 77 million paintings